Just a flash of a conversation. A tiny scene. A tidbit of a memory.

"Hit me."
"I can't. . . I'm so afraid. . ."
"Damn what you feel. I want you to acknowledge that I am standing here. . . alive. I want you to verify that I exist. . . that I am real. HIT ME!!"
"Don't do this. I'm scared."

So that was how it was. I was scared too. I just didn't want him to know. I wanted him to hit me. . . right then, right that very instant, because if he didn't do it, and verify that I was alive. . .
That might mean I was dead.
I needed him to solidify his belief that I could stand there and tell him how I felt and mean it as much for him as for myself.

I needed to know. And he hit me. And we couldn't forgive ourselves for it. There was an ugly blue-black bruise to be explained away. There were lots of awkward silences, brutal conversations, arguments. And then there was nothing.

"Don't do this. I'm scared."

"me too."